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‘Alarming’ £100 million funding gap in London’s special educational needs budget

  • By Gemma Kappala-R...

Analysis by London Councils reveals that the government is not providing sufficient funding for children and young people in London with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to receive the support they need at school or college.

In London the number of pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans – the measure of more complex special educational needs and disabilities – has increased by 10 per cent since 2013/14, a higher rate of growth than seen in any other region in England.

However, this growth has not been recognised by government, as high needs allocations to London boroughs increased by just 2 per cent (£14 million) over the same period, according to London Councils’ research.

As government is not fully funding educational support for children and young people with SEND, London boroughs are exceeding their budgets in order to ensure these children are able to receive a high quality education tailored to their needs. A survey of 31 boroughs showed that in 2016/17, borough budgets for SEND provision were underfunded by £100 million.

The number of pupils with SEND living in the capital is set to rise further over the next few years and London boroughs are deeply concerned that current funding arrangements are unsustainable.

Cllr Peter John OBE, Deputy Chair of London Councils and Executive member for Business, Skills and Brexit, said: 

“All children and young people with SEND have the right to a good quality education, which the capital’s excellent schools and colleges are more than able to provide. Boroughs are committed to providing support to meet every child’s needs, but, alarmingly, government funding is failing to keep pace with demand in London. 

“Recognising the needs of our growing SEND pupil population by fully funding this provision is incredibly important as it will allow schools to invest in enabling pupils to make the most of their education. This can range from recruiting a teaching assistant who can provide tailored support in the classroom to setting up dedicated special schools. 

“The number of pupils with SEND in London is set to rise in the coming years, which is why we are urging government to review funding allocations now to ensure schools across the capital are able to meet the needs of their most vulnerable pupils.”

Ahead of the Autumn Budget, London Councils is calling on government to:

• Provide real terms funding per pupil for high needs allocations and SEND transport, taking into account future growth in the number of SEND pupils. 
• Recognise the existing shortfall in funding in the high needs block – which in London was £100 million in 2016/17 – and take steps to compensate London boroughs and other local authorities. 
• Continue to allow London boroughs and other local authorities to have full flexibility to transfer funding between different funding blocks of the Dedicated Schools Grant if needed.

For more information, click here.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

In London the number of pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans – a key indicator of more complex special educational needs and disabilities – has increased by 10 per cent since 2013/14. In the rest of England, the number of pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans increased by 3 per cent since 2013/14. The source of this data can be found here.